Children of the Damned

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Children of the Damned
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAnton M. Leader
Written byJohn Briley
Produced byBen Arbeid
StarringIan Hendry
Alan Badel
Barbara Ferris
Alfred Burke
CinematographyDavid Boulton
Edited byErnest Walter
Music byRon Goodwin
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • 29 January 1964 (1964-01-29) (U.S.)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1,000,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

Children of the Damned is a 1964 British black-and-white science fiction horror film, a thematic sequel to 1960s Village of the Damned,[2] which concerns a group of children with similar psi-powers to those in the earlier film.[3] The film enables an interpretation of the children as being a good and more pure form of human being, rather than evil and alien.[4]


Six children are identified by a team of UNESCO researchers investigating child development. The children have extraordinary powers of intellect and are all able to complete a difficult brick puzzle in exactly the same amount of time.

British psychologist Tom Lewellyn (Ian Hendry) and geneticist David Neville (Alan Badel) are interested in Paul, a London boy whose mother Diana (Sheila Allen) clearly hates the child and insists she was never touched by a man. This is initially dismissed as hysteria and it is implied she has 'loose' morals. But after a while, the two men realize that all six children were born without fathers and are also capable of telepathy.

The children, from various countries – China, India, Nigeria, the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom – are brought to London for a collective study into their advanced intelligence; however, the children escape from their embassies and gather at an abandoned church in Southwark, London. They intermittently take mental control of Paul's aunt (Ferris) to help them survive in the derelict church. Meanwhile, the Army and Intelligence Service debate whether or not to destroy them. The children have demonstrated the capacity for telekinesis and construct a complex machine which uses sonic waves as a defensive weapon, which kills several government officials and soldiers. But the Army realizes that they only fight back when attacked. After psychologist Tom Lewellyn makes a passionate plea, asking the group to return to their respective embassies, the children obey and murder embassy and military officials before returning to the church.

Lewellyn urges the government to treat the children fairly; however, his team of scientists observe the difference between an ordinary human blood cell and the cells of one of the children, indicating that the children are non-human, and destined to become a threat to the human species.

When authorities try to take control of the children, they are forced to protect themselves. As the situation escalates into a final showdown between the Army and the children, one of the scientists postulates that the judgment of the children being alien was incorrect, and that the children's cells are in fact human, advanced by a million years. Meanwhile, the children also imply they have arrived at the decision that their presence is incompatible with that of the comparatively primitive humans around them, and therefore they intend to lower their defences and sacrifice themselves. The military commander recognizes a mistake has been made, and aborts the attack command; however, the command is triggered accidentally by a screwdriver – one of the simplest of human tools. The church is destroyed, and the children are killed.


Critical reception[edit]

Howard Thompson in The New York Times in late January 1964 considered it: "a dull, pretentious successor to that marvelous little chiller of several seasons ago, Village of the Damned. What a comedown."[5]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 75% based on 12 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 5.6/10.[6] Time Out called the sequel a "fairly intriguing and atmospheric exercise in science fiction."[7]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1964". Variety. 6 January 1965. p. 39. Please note this figure is rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
  2. ^ "Children of the Damned". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  3. ^ Children of the Damned at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata.
  4. ^ Thompson, Howard (2016). "Children of the Damned (1963)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016.
  5. ^ Thompson, Howard (30 January 1964). "Movie Review – Children of the Damned". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Children of the Damned – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Flixer. Retrieved 9 October 2022.
  7. ^ DP (10 September 2012). "Children of the Damned". Time Out London.

External links[edit]